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When World War II began, Miami, well-situated on the southern coast of Florida, became a base for US defense against German submarines.The war brought an increase in Miami's population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city.
The Tequestas occupied the area for a thousand years before encountering Europeans. In 1566 admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor, claimed the area for Spain.
Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to the region, for which she became known as "the mother of Miami." Black labor played a crucial role in Miami's early development.
During the beginning of the 20th century, migrants from the Bahamas and African-Americans constituted 40 percent of the city's population.
The highest natural point in the city of Miami is in Coconut Grove, near the bay, along the Miami Rock Ridge at 24 feet (7.3 m) above sea level.
The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone.
Miami is noted as "the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle", a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native.